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Devon Prep senior Zach Orchard adds another state title to household

03/28/2024, 11:00am EDT
By Owen McCue

By Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

HERSHEY — Zach Orchard walked off the court at the Giant Center on Saturday afternoon clutching the PIAA Class 3A championship trophy in his hands.

A few rows up in the stands, his older brother Lucas, wearing a blue Devon Prep “State Champs” sweatshirt, stood beaming with pride.

Two years after Zach watched Lucas make Devon Prep history with state gold, he added his own chapter to the school’s budding history. 

He scored a career-high 11 points and hit the shot of his life in a win over Franklin Area to finish off his basketball career with a state title.

“It felt great because last time I didn’t get a ring or medal or anything,” Zach said. “Watching that inspired me to go get my own. Being able to contribute to bringing home a state championship now, it’s amazing, best feeling in the world.”

Devon Prep senior Zach Orchard, left, poses with his older brother Lucas at the Giant Center in Hershey after winning the PIAA Class 3A championship on Saturday. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

The Orchards are the sons of Jay and Bridget Orchard. The family moved from New York to the Conestoga area when Bridget took over as the head softball coach at their alma mater Villanova in 2018.

Lucas, a 6-foot-4 guard, was a four-year varsity player at Devon Prep, arriving a year after the Tide joined the Philadelphia Catholic League. He was a second team all-state player as a junior when he helped Devon win its first state title. He did a prep year at the Perkiomen School this past season, adding Pennsylvania Independent Schools state champion to his resume before playing D-I hoops at Monmouth next season.

Zach, a 5-foot-10 guard, had a much different path, starting his career on the freshman team. He was on JV as a sophomore, but he was able to experience the state title run as the “water boy.” Last season, he was mostly a JV player again, appearing in four varsity games. With a pair of transfers entering the program this season, he wasn’t sure how much he would play.

“He’s always been a player,” Lucas said. “I’ve always been taller and kind of more gifted. He’s always wanted to play, but he’s never really had the opportunities I had. … To see him keep sticking with it — sometimes he’s wanted to stop playing and it’s been rough — but I’m so proud of him for coming out and playing like that. That’s his last game. Playing like that was great.”

Zach could tell during the Philly Live periods last June he might not have a large role for the Tide this season. He was encouraged to stay ready.

“My parents, Lucas, a lot of people have just been telling me, ‘Don’t get down on yourself. It’ll pay off,’” Zach said. “And it did.”

“I’ve kind of just thought this was possible, but I didn’t know it would actually happen. The whole time, I’ve been working hard. “

Zach played limited minutes in 13 games during the regular season, but when transfers Mason Thear and Calvin Smith couldn’t play in the PIAA postseason, he was one of those whose name was called upon to step up along with juniors Ayinde McLendon and Mike Pergolis and freshman Cooper Fairlamb.

“For every district and state playoff game, we had a different starting lineup,” Devon Prep coach Jason Fisher said. “They all kind of stepped up in different ways. For Zach to be ready to go, step up and make plays, I’m just happy for all of them.”

Zach Orchard scored a career-high 11 points in the PIAA Class 3A title game. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL File)

Zach’s nickname is “Teek,” a moniker his friends in New York growing up used to call him. Though no one on the Devon Prep roster or coaching staff knows its exact origins, the name has stuck. After watching him go off in practices, they adopted the phrase “Free Teek” to encourage his talent to shine through.

The beginning of the “Free Teek” movement began with a season-high 27 minutes in the team’s District 12 championship win over Math, Civics & Sciences, which marked the program’s first District 12 title and first district championship since winning District 1 in 2012. His role varied throughout the five-game run through the PIAA tournament, culminating with Saturday’s career night on the biggest stage.

“When Teek’s in practice, he goes crazy, and we’ve been saying, ‘Free Teek,’ and we let him go,” Devon Prep junior Reece Craft said. “When gets the ball in his hands, he’s crafty with it. I’m just happy for him.”

Zach started Saturday’s game with the top defensive assignment, shadowing Franklin Area senior Jalen Wood throughout. He drilled a pair of huge threes in the third quarter after a scoreless first half. 

Then came the fourth.

After Franklin Area tied the game to swing momentum it way, Zach answered with a corner three with 2:22 to put Devon Prep up by three. It was the shot ”that won the state championship,” Fisher said, and one Zach had waited more than four years for.

“I was just ready to shoot because I passed up one earlier in the game, and they told me, ‘You gotta be ready to shoot. You can’t play scared,” Zach said. “I was like, I worked my whole life for a moment like this, and I just caught it, shot it, made it.”

“It’s the best way to go out. It’s a dream come true.”

The state championship marked the last game of Zach’s career as he will head to Villanova in the fall.

Lucas, who expects a strong intramural career from his younger brother, was in attendance for Devon Prep’s five-game run through the PIAA tournament. He was happy to play the role of proud brother in the stands for a change.

“I’m just so proud of him,” Lucas said. “Nobody would have thought he would be out here doing that.”

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